Historian Charles Saint-Prot talk titled: Islam, a religion and code of life that has no space for a religious state
Sorbonne Abu Dhabi hosts a lecture on South-South Cooperation Policy
Abu Dhabi 29 January 2014 – The Faculty of Law at Paris – Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi organized a lecture by French historian, geo-politician, islamologist, and political expert, Mr. Charles Saint-Prot, on the south-south cooperation policy adopted by Morocco, as part of Morocco Month events. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session with students and guests on Mr. Saint-Prot’s book, The Reform Movement in Islamic Heritage.
Mr. Saint-Prot, observed that Morocco has achieved an African policy that constitutes a model for south-south cooperation. Such a vision is especially important, he said, given that Morocco has been the most active among Arab countries in adopting an African policy and enjoys an understanding of, proximity to, and ties – human, cultural, and religious – with other African countries.
“The Moroccan leadership keenness to energize this policy has made Morocco a key player in the Arab region and Africa; a country assuming major diplomatic missions,” he said.
He added, “Morocco is a solid representation of balance. It is a Mediterranean country with privileged ties to Europe and Africa. Also, its coast on the Atlantic renders it a gateway to access Africa.” He added that thousands of students from Africa come to pursue their studies in Morocco. The Kingdom aims to share its experiences and its technical and scientific expertise accumulated over the past decades with other African countries, namely thanks to its integrated strategy toward Sub Saharan African.
Prof. Eric Fouache, Paris-Sorbonne University – Abu Dhabi Vice-Chancellor, noted that the cultural offerings created by the university play a critical role in students’ education. Prof. Fouache underscored the importance of interaction and debate in animating, enriching, and raising the efficiency of instruction. For this purpose, Sorbonne Abu Dhabi endeavors to offer cultural, arts, and practical training programs for students throughout the course of their studies. The university provides students with a wide range of seminars, fairs, and conversations that expand students’ perceptions of the wider world in which they live and the social, economic, and political issues of the hour, thus equipping them with the requisite tools for success.
On the other hand, the audience and students then made a number of contributions after the lecture namely addressing Saint Prot’s book The Reform Movement in the Islamic Heritage. In his book, he emphasizes that ‘political Islam’ takes on an erroneous connotation, and that politicizing Islam was damaging. He underlines the common traits between Islam and human values, highlighting that Islam is flexible and reformist. Mainly Islam came to reform the state of human beings in order to bring equality among all of them without exception.
The French historian clarified that his book shows that Islam is a religion and code of life, it focuses on doctrine but also on human treatment. He asserted that there was no religious state in Islam, because Islam addresses politics to organize society in a way that does not contradict the main principles of religion, aiming at more social solidarity and peaceful coexistence.
The Student Meead Al Hammadi said this book came as a new addition to the Arab reader to keep abreast of the latest Western publications on Islamic culture and the Islamic world, and helps illuminate the perceptions of others regarding Islam and Muslims. Indeed, when a prominent scholar, law practitioner, and professor of the caliber of Mr. Saint-Prot corrects Western stereotypes of Islam, he is heeded because he represents the Western culture and is making objective and fair arguments on the subject.
The Student Saleh al Muharrami also commended the university’s choice of speaker given Mr. Saint-Prot’s reputation as a moderate, impartial scholar, notably in his writings which reveal the moderation of Islam in the face of the misinformation and misconceptions prevalent in the West. Moreover, Mr. Saint-Prot’s writings attempt to rid Islam of the distortions that have damaged its image. She also alluded to the importance of this lecture attended by students from over 65 nationalities, mostly from Western countries, thus the university offers them a significant opportunity to learn about Islam and Arabs as they truly are, not as they are painted by false reports and hearsay.